Grow a business

McKinsey-style business presentations

Posted 2022-06-05
McKinsey-style business presentations


Presentation skills are essential to success in any business. This article explains how to structure a McKinsey-style business presentation, step by step, from a single slide to a complete deck. We discuss how to prepare…... read more Presentation skills are essential to success in any business. This article explains how to structure a McKinsey-style business presentation, step by step, from a single slide to a complete deck. We discuss how to prepare for a presentation, how to structure the material, and how to deliver the presentation.

What can we learn about presentations from the most successful management consulting companies like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain?

Prezlab has had the privilege of working with some of the best management consulting firms in the region and has helped a slew of consultants and consulting companies with their presentations. We thought it would be a great idea to jot down what the most successful management consulting companies such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain do in their presentations to make them such a success. Their presentations are elegant, articulate, well-organized, engaging, and pack a mighty punch.

Great consultants are problem-solvers. In our opinion, this is a must for consultants. When this ability is coupled with the ability to design a great presentation, that’s when the magic happens. Because with the power of effective communication and delivery, they can change minds and convince their audience that their solutions are the most effective. Unfortunately, a lot of management consultants lack this ability. This blog is meant to bring you a little closer to becoming an effective communicator of solutions via presentation design.

Think of a great presentation like a movie; storytelling is the most central aspect. The idea of your presentation as a management consultant is to present and unpack complex ideas in the most simplified and easy-to-understand manner. Apart from storytelling, the other aspects of your presentation would be data and analysis. All of these elements should work in unison and be coherent with each other to make one singular point, the solution. If you want to learn more about this aspect of a presentation then read our blog: Effective remedies to dull and boring presentations.

Before you start, ask yourself the following questions:

01 Who is my target audience and what is their level of understanding of the problems?

02 How long should your presentation be?

03 How much time would your audience like to spend on your presentation?

04 What do they care about?

05 What action would you like them to take after your presentation?

The typical elements of a management consulting presentation

1 – Executive Summary

The executive summary is a situational summary of the problem at hand and the gist of your presentation. This is mostly written for top management who don’t have the time to go through the entire presentation and just want a powerful summary.

2 – Table of Content

A table of content helps spark interest and give your audience an idea of what is to come. This is usually shown right at the beginning before you begin presenting your material.

3 – Action Title

The action title is your single point or key idea that you will be proposing in the rest of the presentation. Every point you introduce should connect back to the action title.

4 – Chapters and Body of Slides

The chapters and body of slides are the slides that conform to the narrative. You can split the presentation into chapters to break it into more palatable sections. Use the slides to present your story backed by the data and analysis.

5 – Conclusion and recommendations

The conclusion reinforces and reiterates your final point or your solution. This section summarizes all your main ideas and condenses them into a central theme.

One aspect that makes sides from McKinsey and other top management consulting firms stand out is the use of engaging visuals that go side by side with the data being presented in the slides.

Another aspect of McKinsey slides is the constant and conscious attempt to keep the number of slides to as few as possible. This default instinct is to present as much data as possible. The false impression that most management consultants have is that if they say more, they have a better chance of winning their audience over.

Nothing can be further away from the truth. Once you start thinking this way you would be surprised how you can chop down 20 slides to 2 slides without losing any real impact. Presentation formats such as the PechaKucha or Guy Kawasaki methods limit their slides to a certain number and work within that specific parameter to tell a story.

McKinsey consultancy slides also do not use a lot of bullet points – it is a surefire way of losing your audience’s interest. Studies have shown that people are more likely to remember information presented as images and pictures rather than bullet points. Steve Jobs, one of the greatest presenters of all time, never used bullets in any of his presentations, and we wrote a blog on 5 Presentation Lessons You Can Learn from Steve Jobs if you are interested in learning more.

Key features from McKinsey slides worth keeping in mind:

01 Choose a professional font like Arial or any other professional font

02 Keep colors to a minimum and keep the color scheme consistent across all the slides

03 Highlight the key points

04 Avoid clutter, give your slides enough breathing space

05 Ensure proper and correct alignment

06 Have a “source” section at the bottom of each slide

07 No fancy graphics or animations

And most importantly: make sure each side has an action title that encapsulates the key idea of that slide in a one-liner (maximum two sentences). The idea is that if someone reads just the action titles of each slide, they should get the gist of your presentation.

If you want to see some of McKinsey’s presentations in action then check out the links below:

Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation

Reinventing Construction

Laying the foundations for a financially sound industry

If you would like to get your McKinsey-style slides designed by Prezlab, get in touch with us.

Let us design your presentation!